Asia,  China,  Trekking Tips

How to do Tiger Leaping Gorge in a Weekend

Anya went hiking again… that shouldn’t even be a surprise by now.

I’ve heard wonderful things about Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan, China, and being in Yunnan made for no excuse NOT to go!

This past weekend, some friends and I headed out, despite the bad weather reports.

NOTE: there is an upper trail (hiking) and a lower trail (road for tour buses). This post is all about the UPPER trail.

Getting There

Getting to Tiger Leaping Gorge is not as hard as it seems!

From Kunming, we grabbed a sleeper train on Friday night (at 10:23pm) and arrived in Lijiang by about 8 am on Saturday.

The train ride should have been really comfortable, although we had the world’s loudest snorer right above us, so we didn’t get much sleep. It’s all the luck of the draw (and yes, I had headphones and could hear him THROUGH my music).

The Lijiang train station is a bit out of the way from the city, so grab a taxi to the bus station. It’s the Lijiang Bus Terminal. I just asked for the ke yun zhan and was fine.

If you have more than 4 people, like we did, you’ll have to take a van. Upon exiting the Lijiang train station, turn left and walk down the road until you see a parking lot of blue vans. We were charged 10 yuan per person to the bus terminal (although you could probably get it cheaper, we were too tired to haggle!).

At the bus terminal, buy a ticket to Hutiaoxia. The tickets were 40 yuan each and the bus left at 10am. We arrived at 12pm.

The start of the trek is above the Tiger Leaping Gorge Visitor Center. There, you’ll have to buy your park entrance tickets. They cost 65 yuan. If you’re a student under 25 years old, you get your ticket half off.

You can either find a taxi or hitchhike to the start of the trek, or walk about an hour uphill, along the road. We walked, although there are no outstanding views and it’s not the most exciting walk. I’d get a taxi next time.

The walk up to the trailhead
The trailhead

The Trek

The trek was described to me as “easy” and “flat.” The beginning is neither of those. Although not necessarily difficult, its a steep uphill start. The trail then flattens out to generally uphill with some dips down.

About three hours of hiking in, you’ll reach the Naxi Family Guesthouse. There are other guesthouses along the way, but a couple hours’ walk further.

We stopped early, exhausted from our lack of sleep from the night prior. We ate a feast of a meal and really enjoyed our time at this guesthouse. A dorm bed will set you back 30 yuan. It includes an electric blanket!

Our total bill was about 100 yuan per person. We ate very large meals and had beer.

The next day, we set out at about 8am and had yet another uphill bit, and then the infamous 28 bends (28 switchbacks uphill). I personally thought getting to the start of the 28 bends was tougher than the actual 28 bends.

After the 28 bends, the train flattens out and you won’t see any big uphill sections anymore.

The best views are at the end of the bends, but when we got there, it was too foggy to see anything… Really. We only saw a cloud of white in front of us.

Luckily, the fog dissipated and we were greeted with some pretty views further along the trail.

This day is beautiful. It’s a relatively easy hike, and it takes you about 5 hours.

Getting Away

The trek ends at Tina’s Guesthouse. There is a shuttle that takes you back to Lijiang at 3:30pm. Tickets cost 55 yuan.

If you don’t make it in time for the shuttle, it’s an incredibly expensive taxi ride back to the city.

From the end of Tiger Leaping Gorge to Lijiang, it takes about two hours.

This is a gorgeous hike! I definitely recommend!!!

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